Ecopetrol says CEO Bayon to leave his post on March 31

FILE PHOTO: CEO of EcoPetrol Felipe Bayon conducts an interview in the Manhattan borough of New York City

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombian majority-state-owned energy company Ecopetrol on Thursday said Chief Executive Felipe Bayon will leave his post on March 31, following more than five years in the position.

Bayon's departure represents a shake-up for Colombia's biggest company and largest producer of oil - one of the Andean country's most important exports - during a drive by leftist President Gustavo Petro to accelerate the transition toward renewable energy.

Choosing Bayon's replacement will involve a rigorous selection process by the company's board of directors, the company said in a statement.

"Ecopetrol expresses its gratitude to Felipe Bayon for his management and wishes him success in his new professional projects," Ecopetrol said.

According to his Linkedin, Bayon spent just over 20 years at London-listed oil giant BP before joining Ecopetrol in 2016 as executive vice president and chief operating officer. He took on the mantle of chief executive a year later and steered the company through the coronavirus pandemic and celebrated surging profits as oil prices recovered.

The industry will mourn his departure amid tension between the oil sector and the government, Colombia Risk Analysis founder Sergio Guzman told Reuters

"Inevitably, with Bayon's departure, the sector loses a standard bearer who was quite important," Guzman said.

(Reporting by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Leslie Adler and Josie Kao)